April McCormick’s blog, First Time Mom and Dad, has been internationally recognized for its honest and hilarious look into parenting. She resides between Kentucky and Australia with her toddler, shameless Australian husband, and cat, The Professor.
Ah, The Great American Family Road Trip Snacks…
It’s the trip every family dreams of and takes. And you’re about to embark on yours. Most likely, over the last year, you have planned every detail. You’ve studied every square inch of Google Maps, to the point you know every rest stop and gas station along the way. You know how much fuel will cost and what sights and attractions you want to see on your family adventure.
This trip is going to be perfect. It has to, right?
Of course, it will be perfect. Unless, you make the biggest rookie mistake in the book – loading the kids up on fast food and sugary drinks. Because if you do… Let’s just say, it’s a good thing you know where every rest stop and gas station is.
Below are a few fail-free rad trip snack ideas to keep those little bellies full, and most of all, not loaded up on caffeine and junk food while alternating between, “Are we there yet,” and, “I have to pee,” for eleven hours straight.
1. Create a Sugar-free Beverage Zone
Remember the last time your child had too much sugar? The whole climbing the walls and making monkey noises? You will most definitely want to avoid anything remotely like that during your family car adventure. So first and foremost, create a sugar-free beverage zone. Your best bet is to stick to water for the kids. And small quantities at a time, or it’s rest stop hopping for you.
Road trip snack TIP: Freeze small bottles of water and use them in the cooler instead of ice. The frozen bottles will keep things cool and the cooler from filling with melted ice water that sloshes back and forth with every turn, begging to pour out all over the floor of the car.
2. Bring Bento Boxes
There’s no doubt about it, kids love choices. Skip the fast food drive-thru and opt for a homemade lunch, or snack, that includes four or five small quantities of road trip snacks. Think: A few slices of cheese, a couple of mini carrot sticks, a short stack of crackers and a few grapes, all packaged in a neat little box.
Road trip snack TIP: If you don’t have a bento box readily available, a recycled Lunchable container works very well. Or just slip each snack in a small snack baggie and toss into a lunch box/bag.
3. Take simple snacks to a whole new level
Simple snacks like fruit, carrots or celery sticks are easy enough, but when paired with high protein dips like yogurt, peanut butter or hummus, those simple snacks become satiating crowd pleasers! Pair celery with peanut butter (mix raisins into the peanut butter for an extra healthy kick), apples with yogurt and carrot sticks with hummus.
Road trip snack TIP: Try these ideas:
- Save yourself from potential dip spills by making self-contained dip kits.
- Use an old sour cream container to hold a single serve yogurt surrounded with apples.
- Only a little left in your peanut butter jar? Perfect! Stick the celery sticks right in the container and replace lid for easy dipping.
- Grab a single-serve hummus container, and drop into a small container and surround with carrots or pita bread. When it’s time for a healthy, satiating, snack, just remove the lid, and serve! No dip cups to fumble with, and once finished, replace lid and toss!
4. Make Mini-sandwiches
Create fun sandwiches that are small enough for little fingers to easily hold on to and perfect for big kid snacking. All you need is hotdog buns and your family’s favorite sandwich fixin’s.
Fill buns with ham and cheese or turkey and hummus, then slice into three little sandwiches. Place in a Ziploc bag and drop into the cooler for easy snacking.
Road trip snack TIP: throw a few single-serve condiment packets in the cooler for mayo and mustard lovers!
5. Prepare for a Bribe
I know what your thinking, a bribe? But wouldn’t that be candy? Sure, at home or in a big open field, candy can be used as a bribe. But in the car absolutely not. This bribe is your child’s favorite (as healthy as possible) snack. A special treat, even if it is a bag of chips. This is your get out of losing-your-mind card, or at the very least, stop hearing, “are we there yet,” long enough to find your sanity.
Road trip snack TIP: Didn’t use the food bribe? Turn it into a reward later on in the trip. As an alternative to the food bribe, try offering stickers or additional minutes of media.
What are your family’s favorite road trip snacks? Share your stories, road trip hacks and more on our social media sites. You just may find your idea in next year’s Road Trips Essentials. Reserve this year’s 2015 IFS Road Trip Essentials for more road trip tips.